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If you're travelling by train or bus, expect to be held up at the border for two to three hours – or even longer if your fellow passengers don't have their paperwork in order. You'll usually have to disembark and endure paperwork and baggage checks on both sides of the border. Security at the crossings to/from countries to the east and southeast (Georgia, Azerbaijan/Nahçıvan, Iran and Iraq) is tightest. The process is elongated by a trainload of passengers or the long lines of trucks and cars that build up at some crossings.

Turkey's relationships with most of its neighbours tend to be tense, which can affect when and where you can cross. Check for the most up-to-date information; sources of information include Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree forum (www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree), your embassy in Turkey and the Turkish embassy in your country.

Crossing the border into Turkey with your own vehicle should be fairly straightforward, providing your paperwork is in order.


At the time of writing, the Turkey–Armenia border was closed.


Buses run to Tbilisi (Georgia), with connections to Armenia. There is also a Yerevan–İstanbul service once a week.

Crossing from Turkey to Georgia via the Türkgözü and Aktaş borders, the only minibus services onward to Armenia from the towns on the Georgian side are in the morning.


The remote Borualan–Sadarak crossing, east of Iğdır (Turkey), leads to the Azerbaijani enclave of Nahçıvan (Naxçivan). Nahçıvan is separated from the rest of Azerbaijan by the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region and the only way to get from Nahçıvan to the rest of Azerbaijan is to fly.


Buses run from İstanbul and Trabzon to Baku and to Tbilisi (Georgia), with onward connections to Baku. Many use İstanbul's Emniyet Garajı, rather than the main bus station. There are also daily buses from Iğdır to Nakhichevan. The following serve the İstanbul–Baku route:


Ortadoğu Turizm (www.ortadogutur.com.tr)

Öznuhoğlu (www.oznuhogluseyahat.com)

Perla Trans (www.perlatrans.com.ro)

Bulgaria & Eastern Europe

Bulgarian border guards only occasionally allow pedestrians to cross the frontier; take a bus or hitch a lift with a cooperative motorist. There are three border crossings:

Kapitan Andreevo–Kapıkule This 24-hour post is the main crossing – and the world's second busiest land border crossing. Located 18km northwest of Edirne (Turkey) on the E80 and 9km from Svilengrad (Bulgaria).

Lesovo–Hamzabeyli Some 25km northeast of Edirne, this is favoured by big trucks and should be avoided.

Malko Tǎrnovo–Aziziye Some 70km northeast of Edirne via Kırklareli and 92km south of Burgas (Bulgaria), this is only useful for those heading to Bulgaria's Black Sea resorts.


Approximately half a dozen companies have daily departures between İstanbul and eastern European destinations including Albania, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Macedonia and Romania. Many use the city's Emniyet Garajı, rather than the main bus station.



Metro Turizm



The nightly İstanbul–Sofia Expressi departs Halkali station at 10.40pm daily; ticket prices start at ₺120. A transfer bus to Halkali departs from Sirkeci Station at 9.30pm; the fare is included in the İstanbul–Sofia ticket. You can change in Sofia for Belgrade.


Sarp The main 24-hour crossing, on the Black Sea coast between Hopa (Turkey) and Batumi (Georgia).

Türkgözü Near Posof (Turkey), north of Kars and southwest of Akhaltsikhe (Georgia). The border should be open 24 hours.

Aktaş South of Türkgözü, this new crossing between Ardahan and Ahalkalaki (Georgia) reduces the driving time to Armenia. It should also be open 24 hours.


Several bus companies depart from İstanbul, Ankara and other cities to Batumi, Kutaisi and Tbilisi. Many use İstanbul's Emniyet Garajı, rather than the main bus station.

Closer to Georgia, buses and minibuses run from Trabzon via Rize, Pazar, Hopa and Sarp to Batumi (and vice versa).

There's one daily bus each way between Ardahan (Turkey) and Akhaltsikhe (Georgia) via Türkgözü. In theory it continues to/from Tbilisi, but it doesn't always do so.

Three daily minibuses connect Ardahan and Akhalkalaki (Georgia) via Aktaş, stopping at Çıldır between Ardahan and the border.

Crossing the border by bus or minibus normally takes about an hour, and the passengers generally walk across and wait for the vehicle. It is thus usually quicker to catch a bus to the border, walk through and pick up another on the far side.

Golden Turizm

Metro Turizm

Greece & Western Europe

Greek and Turkish border guards allow you to cross the frontier on foot. The following are open 24 hours.

Kastanies–Pazarkule About 9km southwest of Edirne.

Kipi–İpsala Located 29km northeast of Alexandroupolis (Greece) and 35km west of Keşan (Turkey).


Germany, Austria and Greece have most direct buses to İstanbul, so if you're travelling from other European countries, you'll likely have to catch a connecting bus. Several companies have daily departures for Greece and beyond.

Derya Tur Serves Athens (Greece).

Metro Turizm Serves Greece and Germany.

Ulusoy Serves Germany and Austria.

Car & Motorcycle

The E80 highway makes its way through the Balkans to Edirne and İstanbul, then on to Ankara. Using the car ferries from Italy and Greece can shorten driving times from Western Europe, but at a price.

From Alexandroupolis, the main road leads to Kipi-İpsala, then to Keşan and east to İstanbul or south to Gallipoli, Çanakkale and the Aegean.


From Western Europe, you will come via Eastern Europe. A suggested route from London to İstanbul is the three-night journey via Paris, Munich, Zagreb, Belgrade and Sofia (or four nights via Paris, Munich, Budapest and Bucharest); see www.seat61.com/turkey for more information.


Gürbulak–Bazargan This busy post, 35km southeast of Doğubayazıt (Turkey), is open 24 hours.

Esendere–Sero Southeast of Van, this road crossing was not recommended for security reasons at the time of research.


There are regular buses from İstanbul and Ankara. Thor Tourism (www.thortourism.com) offers three buses a week from Ankara to Tabriz and Tehran.

From Doğubayazıt Catch a dolmuş to Gürbulak, then walk or catch a shared taxi across the border. It's Iran's busiest border crossing, and Turkey's second busiest. The crossing might take up to an hour, although tourists are normally waved through without much fuss. Change any unused Turkish lira in Bazargan, as it's harder to do so in Tabriz and Tehran. There are onward buses from Bazargan.

From Van There are direct buses to Orumiyeh (Iran).


For more information visit www.tcdd.gov.tr and www.seat61.com/iran.

Trans-Asya Ekspresi The İstanbul–Tehran service had been indefinitely suspended at the time of writing.

Van–Tabriz Also suspended at the time of writing.


Between Silopi (Turkey) and Zahko (Kurdish Iraq), there's no town or village at the Habur–Ibrahim al-Khalil crossing and you can't walk across it. Not recommended for security reasons at the time of writing, when Western governments advised against travelling in southeastern Anatolia and crossing the Iraqi border. This situation is unlikely to change in the near future.


There are direct daily buses from Diyarbakır to Dohuk (₺50, six hours) or Erbil (₺60, nine hours) in Kurdish Iraq, and from Cizre.


More hassle than the bus, a taxi from Silopi to Zakho costs between US$50 and US$70. Your driver will manoeuvre through a maze of checkpoints and handle the paperwork. On the return journey, watch out for taxi drivers slipping contraband into your bag.


At the time of writing, advisories warned against all travel to Syria due to the civil war there. Advisories also warned against travel to the area of Turkey near the Syrian border. Check government travel advice and www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree for updates.